A remarkable hoard of 87 coins bearing the images of Viking era rulers has been discovered on the Isle of Man, offering archaeologists insight into the island’s past as a medieval hub for international trade.
In April, metal-detectorist Kath Giles unearthed the hoard, which also includes 13 pieces of hack-silver cut from arm-rings, and other associated artefacts, whilst detecting on private land.
The hoard was declared Treasure earlier this month by the Isle of Man Coroner.
Amongst the coins are pennies minted in Dublin, England, present-day Germany, and the Isle of Man itself.
The Irish and Manx coins depict the profile of King Sihtric Silkbeard, who served as Norse King of Dublin around AD 989 to 1036. King Cnut, King Aethelred II of England, and the Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great also feature on the coins.
According to Allison Fox, Curator for Archaeology at Manx National Heritage: ‘Some of the coins have a design called a “long cross” on the other side. These lines were used to cut the coins when literally only a half-penny was needed.
‘The cut, or hack-silver pieces found with the coins are part of a flexible system of payment, where the value depended on the weight and purity of silver.’
The variety in currencies and presence of hack-silver, which would have been convenient for international trade due to having no political or monarchical affiliation, presents an image of a complex Viking Age economy in the Isle of Man and around the Irish Sea.
It is thought the treasures, which date from between AD 1000 and 1035, were deliberately deposited by the owner for safekeeping.
‘The Northern Mixed hoard is the fourth Viking-Age coin hoard to be found in the Isle of Man in the last fifty years. It may have been added to over time, like a piggybank,’ which accounts ‘for some of the older coins,’ said Dr Kristin Bornholdt-Collins, an independent researcher and numismatist.
The hoard is currently on display in the Viking Gallery at the Manx Museum.